Freebee Shuttles Are Expanding Across South Florida With Public Subsidies. Could Uber be Next?




For the past few years, Freebee Shuttles have operated in the urban centers of Miami, where population is dense enough that advertising revenue from the shuttles can pay for their operation, like Downtown Miami and South Beach, but now Miami-Dade transit is allowing transit dollars to be used to subsidies the expansion of Freebee into cities where there isn’t a large enough population to justify trolley service, reports the Miami Herald. And Uber could be next.

On Wednesday, Pinecrest, the suburban city of 20,000 people, introduced door-to-door Freebee shuttle service. Freebee already operates in the suburban cities of Key Biscayne and Coral Gables, and in Miami Lakes, where they have municipal deals in place. Freebee also operates in a special Coconut Grove business improvement district. The cities have been using municipal funds to subsidize rides, but now they can tap into transportation dollars to do so.

Freebee also operates on the Island of Islamorada in the Florida Keys, in neighboring Monroe County.

Riders request rides via an app, and the shuttles operate within set boundaries and during set operating hours. The shuttles look like large golf carts and have room for a driver and five passengers. The shuttles are free for passengers, but they are encouraged to tip their drivers.

“Almost every municipality in Miami-Dade is talking to us, from Miami Gardens down to Homestead,” Freebee partner Jason Spiegel told the Herald. He co-founded Freebee in 2012.

Meanwhile, last month, Miami-Dade County enacted an ordinance allowing funds from the half-penny transit tax to go toward ‘on-demand’ transit options, like Freebee and Uber. The county had been in talks with Uber in 2017 to subsidize rides to and from Metrorail stations, but those talks stalled. It looks like they could be revived says the Miami Herald, in some form, now that funds are available. Uber has already launched a similar agreement with a number Central Florida cities, which could be a model for an agreement in South Florida. An Uber lobbyist said it was “an opportunity” to use Uber to “expand transportation options for Miami-Dade residents.”

Photo via Freebee.
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  1. I don’t see how a wheelchair user could ride in these. It violates federal law to use transit dollars on inaccessible transportation.


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